Disney’s Caricature Artists

by AllEars® Team Member Jack Marshall

You have probably seen them a hundred times. Walked right past them without paying any mind. I know. I’m guilty of doing it, too. Every resort lobby in the Value and Moderate categories has one. Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge, too. I’m talking about that little fold-up stand by the door where the caricature artist sits.

Every night from 6 to 11 pm and an occasional mid-day, too, you will find one of these artists ready to perform right in front of you. Most of their subjects are children but they do all ages. They can do face only or they can put your face on one of many body poses you can choose from a notebook they have. You can even specify one that isn’t there and they will tell you whether they can do it or not.

The artists themselves are not Disney cast members. They work for an outside firm that Disney contracts with. There are currently about 40 artists who alternate between 11 locations. Some work once or twice a week. A few work a little more and a few are vacation/illness fill-ins. There are four different art companies that handle the various caricature and portrait business throughout Walt Disney World.

The artist that I spoke to on a recent Sunday night was named Michael. As I was asking him some questions, a young lady named Lily, all of 4 years old, came up to the booth with her mother and asked to have her caricature done. She was wearing the cutest Little mermaid dress. When Michael asked what she wanted her body to look like, she didn’t hesitate: “Mermaid!” Shocker, huh?

So Lily was seated and Michael took out a fresh piece of paper to begin. The first step is to put the name in the upper left corner. Then it’s on to the rough sketching of the shape and features of the head using a pencil.

The beginning:

The beginning

Pencil sketching:

pencil sketching

Michael drawing:

Michael drawing

Once satisfied with the pencil drawing, Michael uses a thin-tipped permanent marker to outline the features.

Adding marker:

Adding marker

Soon the mermaid’s tail is added and other “under the sea” friends start to appear.

Tail fin appears:

tail fin appears

Sebastian and Flounder appear:

under the sea friends appear

If you want the black and white sketch, this would be your finished product. Total time from start to this point was about 8 minutes.

Finished black and white head and body picture:

finished black and white

But Lily is going to be in full color so here goes:

The coloring begins:

coloring begins

Sebastian comes to life:

more coloring

Flounder is colored and work on the tail begins:

more coloring

Almost done:

almost done

Finally, Michael adds the sea and the finished product appears. Total time: about 15 minutes.

Putting the finishing touches on the sea:

adding the sea

The finished product: Lily the Mermaid

the finished color caricature

The cost for these caricatures is currently $15 for face only black and white, $20 for face only color; $20 for face and body black and white; $30 for face and body color. But note that the price is PER PERSON.

If you are worrying that your child would never sit still for long enough, here’s a secret. The child only needs to be looking at the artist during the pencil sketching. Once that’s done (and it only takes about two minutes), the child can do pretty much whatever they want.

The artists can also work from photographs as long as they are of a decent size. Postage stamp size photos don’t work well, but they can use most photos from cell phones.

I asked Michael about mistakes. “Do you ever do an oops when you’re drawing?” He said absolutely. Just the other day he spelled a name wrong and redid the entire caricature. Yes, mistakes do happen.

So next time you come upon one of these artists seated at their booth, stop and think about it. Ten years from now you will wish you had. My wife had one of these done of my daughter about 12 years ago and it’s still one of my most treasured things from her childhood. Fifteen minutes now will mean a lifetime of memories.

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21 Replies to “Disney’s Caricature Artists”

  1. Depending on where you had it drawn, it depends as there are different companies. I’m not sure of the new print paper caricatures, but the caricatures drawn on cardstock/heavier paper with a border are 11″x14″.

  2. Does anyone know how to contact the female artist working at All star sports? She does drawings inside block letters instead of caricatures. Just an email would be awesome as Disney can’t provide contact info.

      1. Hi. My son is trying to surprise his girlfriend and propose during a caricature drawing at magic kingdom in WDW. Her mom and sister are coming for the day as a surprise. I am trying to coordinate this to make timing work. Is there any way to schedule with an artist prior to arriving?

  3. What size frame are the caricature pictures? My daughter had one done and having a hard time finding the right size

    1. Michael McElroy! He’s a local central Florida caricature artist and illustrator. You can see him at different comic conventions and on Disney property through Artistic talent group.

  4. My son had a caricature done at Disneyland last week and I would love to have another copy. Is it allowed to take a picture of it and get a copy made? Is there any copyrights prohibiting this?

    DebK replies: Marie, I really don’t know the answer to this! I would suggest that you contact Disney directly at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/help/email/

    I’ll try to remember to ask the next time I’m in the parks.

  5. I loved loved loved Brian the artist. He drew my friend Sarah and me many years ago in 2010 at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I am dying to go back and meet him and get drawn again. I am admiring his work right now.

  6. I would like to learn this craft.

    I already draw and paint…mostly animals. I used to volunteer and do portraits and face painting for children at a children’s home through my church.

  7. We went with our grandkids to Disneyland. The kids wanted to get a caricature drawing done, but we did not take the time to do it.. which we regret. We would like to email a couple close up pics of the kids, and have two drawing of them, (they are 9 & 7) I see the work Lily has done. We would like the mermaid and pirate. Can we email in our photos and have this drawing made up for us? Please let me know… thanks!

  8. I had a caricature made of my daughter while at Disney and wanted to get it copied into a picture. I was told I needed the copyright released in order to do that. How do I go about getting this release? I was wanting to get the caricature copied for my mother-in-law for mother’s day. (My wife just recently passed away.) Any information will be greatly appreciated.

  9. I came to disney a while back and this guy did an excellent job on both of my girls. I am trying to get another one done by the same guy without the whole Disney experience. any thoughts?

    Jack replies: Many of these artists do side jobs like parties, etc. so it would likely be possible for you to have a private caricature done. Your only problem is knowing the person’s name you want and how to contact him.

  10. My brothers and I had these done on our first trip to Disney World in 1975. They are now hanging in “Grandmom’s” house for our children to enjoy. Each time I see them I remember how the magic began.

    1. Hi I draw caricatures for living. I turned caricatures in to yearly business.
      My question is what kind markers brand you guys use to color in caricature?

      My instagram page is caricaturesby_kevin

  11. What a SUPER idea for gifts for grandparents!! I doubt our 18-year-old son would be willing to pose for a sketch, but I can always take a photo of him for the artist to use. 😉

  12. In 2010 my son had his done at Pop. He’s into skateboarding so the lady did his caricature w/ him skateboarding on the tracks of Everest. It is absolutely amazing! Looks just like him. Worth every penny.

  13. We’ve now got 5 of these of our daughter, ranging from 4 years old to 15 which was done in August this year on our latest trip. We always stay in Port Orleans Riverside and though the artist has changed a few times, the end result is always wonderful.

    We are going to get them all framed and put up in our living room.

  14. This is one of my best memories from our first stay at Wildnerness Lodge. My girls were were 13 and 9. The older one was (and still is) a cheerleader so he did a cheer theme with school colors, the younger one did irish dancing so he did a Irish theme. I remember sitting that evening in that beautiful lobby while he worked, people coming in from the parks, some with Halloween costumes on (MNSSP in Oct) and looking over at the works in progress. I love those portraits, great memories! They hang in a prominent spot of our family room!

  15. On our first trip, our son and daughter had a picture made. This last time, the wife and I joined the fun. These are now framed and haging in the hallway to remind of our great trips to The World.

  16. We LOVE Brian at the Wilderness Lodge. He is a great artist – the caricatures actually look like our children and he interjects personality beyond what is shown in the example book.

    He did a caricature of our daughter 3 years ago and this year. (Also, one each for my son and nephew). We love looking at them and remembering our vacations. Plus, its fun to watch his pictures come to life right before your eyes.